Prime Minister Dr Derek Sikua yesterday launched the 2009 National Population Census during a ceremony at the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) Center in Honiara.

In his address, Dr. Sikua described the upcoming National Census as an important process towards gathering quality and accurate data vital for decision making and the formulation of government policies and programs.

"Quality and accurate population data is vital in assessing the progress of our development efforts and the demand for the delivery of basic goods and services for our people," he said.

The Prime Minister said Government's sectoral policies and programmes imply very heavy data requirements and these requirements are continuously increasing.

"The Government, as many of you are aware, had accepted several of the international reporting obligations. First and foremost is the Government's international obligation and commitment on the progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDG),"

Dr Sikua said measurement of progress in the achievement of the country's international and national obligations can only be tracked if we have quality and accurate data.

The last National Census was conducted in 1999 at the height of ethnic crisis which affected the quality and accuracy of the data.

The displacement of people between Guadalcanal and Malaita provinces during that year has distorted the Census data for these two provinces and in effect actual information at a sub-national level was not very accurate.

Dr Sikua highly acknowledged the commitment, dedication and passion demonstrated by staff of the National Statistics Office for their previous work and also the current preparations of the upcoming census.

The Prime Minister also acknowledged the commitment by the country's development partners, particularly the UNFPA and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) for playing a leading role and demonstrating their commitment through their support and assistance in the preparatory work towards the upcoming event.

The launching ceremony was attended by senior government officials and representatives of donor agencies and diplomatic missions.

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